Austin’s CodeNEXT project moves forward following contentious City Council debate

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Austin City Council authorized another $2.27 million for consultants to continue their work on CodeNEXT—the four-year, now-$8.5 million rewrite of the city’s land development code.

Prior to the 8-3 vote, some council members expressed frustration with what they said was the CodeNEXT consultants’ failure to produce an adequate product. CodeNEXT is approaching the Nov. 28 release of its third draft of the code and accompanying zoning maps.

Council members Leslie Pool, Ann Kitchen and Ora Houston criticized Opticos Design, the lead consulting firm. They said Opticos has failed to adequately employ minority- and women-owned businesses as subcontractors, per the requirements of a city program.

The debate brought forth a slew of public comments from both ends of the CodeNEXT spectrum—from heads of neighborhood preservationist groups to leaders of the urbanist movement—all of whom expressed disappointment with the product the city has produced. Many asked the council to postpone or even opt out of the contract and start the entire process over.

Pool offered approved amendments that asked for a more data-driven approach to the CodeNEXT process. This included directing the consultants to release flood impact analyses and produce a report on community input.

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Christopher Neely

Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following two years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and USA Today. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

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